After back-to-back road losses, the stumbling McGill Redmen (6-2) regained their moxie as they coasted to a 70-49 win over the Concordia Stingers (6-4) on Saturday night. The team continued its perfect record at home and jumped from third to first in the division thanks to a Laval win over Bishop’s. Concordia’s offence had no answer for McGill’s dominant man-to-man defence as the Stingers shot a pitiful 32 per cent from the field.
With over 400 fans in attendance on Saturday, Love Competition Hall had no shortage of energy. Prior to the game, Redmen Head Coach David DeAveiro stressed the importance of protecting home court and turning McGill into a place no team wants to play.
“I think our guys understand that we always have to defend our home court,” DeAveiro said. “We know we’re good at home, now we [just] have to win some tough games on the road.”
After a heartbreaking loss at Concordia last Thursday, DeAveiro refocused the team while emphasizing hustle and controlling the boards.
“We watched the video [of the] Concordia [game] and I thought that as well as Concordia played, we really beat ourselves,” DeAveiro said. “We talked about fixing two things, […] not letting anyone out-hustle us today, [and] we got out-rebounded last game, and I think we [out-rebounded] them 50-31 tonight. So we addressed the things we thought needed to be addressed, and the kids responded really well.”
The host’s response came early as the Redmen snatched the game’s first eight points. After a poor showing at Concordia in the team’s previous matchup, freshman guard Dele Ogundokun was scorching hot, registering a career-high 21 points along with seven boards and a pair of steals.
“My teammates were giving me the ball, [I was] attacking the glass, and just doing what I needed to do for the team,” Ogundokun said. “Tonight’s win was [just] a whole team effort.”
McGill forward Francois Bourque’s rookie season has been nothing short of spectacular, as he recorded his fourth double-double this season with 12 points and 11 boards. Veteran forward Vincent Dufort just missed the double-double mark with 11 points and nine rebounds. While point-guard Simon Bibeau’s return didn’t make a huge difference in the game, his 15 minutes on the floor gave third-year guard Ave Bross some much needed rest after being the team’s primary facilitator in the Redmen’s previous three outings.
Defensively, the team played well, as it held the Stingers to a season-low 49 points. The Redmen held Concordia stars Mukiya Post and Adam Chmielewski to just 11 and nine points respectively after the tandem combined for 45 points in the previous game. “We tried some different things with [Chmielewski] this game; we tried to play different guys on him, [we] put a fresh guy on him, [then] a taller guy on him,” DeAveiro said. “We just changed it up so that he didn’t get the same look over and over again.”
The Redmen have regained their composure just in time for a crucial home-and-home series with the Bishop’s Gaiters on Jan. 30 and Feb. 1. In the teams’ first matchup on Nov. 28, the Gaiters choked up a 10-point halftime lead in a resounding 81-63 Redmen win. After Bishop’s fell to Laval on Saturday, the Redmen and Gaiters are now deadlocked at the top of the conference at the halfway mark of the season. The team that comes out ahead next weekend will establish a tight grip on the race to win the RSEQ.